•Members fault time table, allege plot for affirmation
Barely five days after the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) approved the conduct of congresses and national convention for election of officials at ward, local government, state and national levels, fresh crisis looms in the party.
Sources revealed that a time table drawn up by some National Working Committee (NWC) members for the ward, council, state and national convention has raised suspicion of some party members, who alleged that it was done in such a way that elections would not be possible, thereby leaving the party no choice than to go for affirmation and extension of the tenure of those in office.
Daily Sun gathered that in line with NEC’s resolution to hold elective congresses and national convention, the John Oyegun-led NWC submitted a timetable to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) about two days ago.
Findings revealed that in the timetable, ward congresses are scheduled for May 2, councils May 5 and states on May 7, with the national convention slated for around mid-May.
Going by what is involved in the conduct of congresses, including logistics and funds, some members of APC are kicking against the timetable, alleging that was “hurriedly” put together to achieve an objective.
According to them, the sole intention of those who drew up the timetable is to cause a stalemate and therefore leave the party no option than to affirm the continuation of those in office.
Speaking to Daily Sun yesterday in Abuja, a member of the NWC said: “It is true that the timetable has been forwarded to INEC, but most of us have no idea how they came about it. What we are hearing is that they want to release it close to the election dates, so that, in the end, they will come up with excuses that there are no logistics to go ahead with the congresses and, therefore, the party should opt for affirmation.
“The moves to have us go for affirmation is simply to return all the members of excos, which, to some of us, is getting tenure elongation through the backdoor. I say so because if we do transparent congresses and convention, most of these people cannot return. And they know it.”
Asked if affirmation was not part of the party’s constitution, the source further said it can only come in where there are no other contestants for such offices.
“But in this case, we have contestants to those offices, including that of the national chairman. So, why contemplate affirmation? If you must be in Lagos by 9am, it means you must board a plane that will leave Abuja by 8am. But you can’t tell me you want to be in Lagos by 9am and you just got the news by 8.30am; even if you have your private jet, you cannot make it. That is what some of our leaders in APC are doing, as regards our congresses and national convention.”
He allged that the entire process has been hijacked by a few NWC members to ensure the “process does not succeed, so they can come back.”
Another NWC member, however, thinks otherwise. He dispelled the alleged moves to foist a fait accompli on the party, saying those peddling the speculation were opposed to the return of Oyegun as the party’s national chairman.
He revealed that party members who want Oyegun back have gone far in their plans and are ready to face their opponents at the poll.
He said: “You are a Nigerian. You cannot claim not to know what the various tendencies within our party represent. What you are seeing is a political war between two groups: those opposed to Oyegu and the current exco versus those who want them back.
“I can confirm to you that we are set for congresses and convention. Anybody that say anything contrary is not telling the truth. I agree that in view of the waiver, we have to remain in office and supervise the electoral process’ our opponents will have difficulty dislodging us. I think that is the reason for this fresh concern.”
Confirming the above scenario, another chieftain of the party, who is a serving lawmaker, told Daily Sun yesterday that while he agrees with the waiver canvassed by President Muhammadu Buhari on behalf of APC party executives at all levels, such a waiver should only have been granted to ward executives of the party, whose tenure expires next week.
According to him, party officials at councils, states and national executives still have “ample” time to resign before recontesting.”
He further argued that granting members of the NWC waiver was like making them judges in their own case, insisting that the party would have set up congress and convention committees to take over the affairs of the party, while ensuring that all NWC members and state part officials, who want to re-contest, are forced to comply with the provisions of the party’s constitution by resigning at least one month to the congress/convention.
He also confirmed the allegation that some members of the NWC have designed the time-table to frustrate the congresses and national convention, while accusing some governors of being the arrowheads in the plot.
“As I speak to you, the NWC members are divided over appointments of state congresses committee members. They say they won’t allow it to be constituted by just three members of the NWC, as it was done before now.
“This is where my appeal goes to Buhari. He must save the party, to save his ambition. He must ensure that the rights of millions of APC party members in all the 36 states and FCT are protected, as guaranteed by the constitution of the party and that of the country by ensuring that party offices are subjected to voting processes. Anything short of that will spell doom for the party and may threaten the president’s second term ambition.”
But a top official of the party who did not want his name in print, denied all the allegations against the Oyegun-led leadership, saying that it was not correct to say three persons have hijacked the process.
“It is not true to say only three persons prepared the timetable. Majority of us were involved. But out of the 20 of us, 13 of us are together, seven are on the other side. We are prepared for convention, we already have the chairman and other members, so preparations are on,” he added.
Meanwhile, feelers emerged yesterday that congress may not hold in Adamawa as
Governor Jibrilla Bindow of Adamawa has endorsed the leadership of the
APC from ward to state levels in the state, saying, “no more congress in this state.”
Bindow who announced the endorsement when the party leaders paid him a solidarity visit at Government House, Yola, said the endorsement became necessary due to their patience and support to the APC administration in the.
He said the party in Adamawa would only replace executive members who have died, insisting that all the others must be retained.
Bindow whose move may be seen as a way to ensure his control of the party executives, especially as he faces the challenge of an ex-governor Murtala Nyako, who called for congresses, said he supported extension of the tenure of the party executives in order to avoid acrimony in the party, and not out of fear the party’s structure could be hijacked.
“I must thank members of the APC executives from the ward to the state levels because you have demonstrated faith in our administration. For this, I have endorsed you for another tenure of four years. I will also insist that only those who have passed on will be replaced but all others should be retained. I am carrying on with this advocacy with the view to pay you back for your support to my administration and as the leader of the party in the state. I will make sure that I uphold my promise to you.
“I’m one of the governors that supported tenure elongation and this was done in good faith, to forestall crisis in our party and not that I’m afraid of losing grip of the party to some group of individuals,” Bindow said.
Reacting, National Publicity Secretary, Bolaji Abdullahi’s: “He is only declaring his support for them. He is not saying they will not face congress. In any case, that’s not his choice to make.”